Russian invasion: Pentagon says it’s unclear if ‘Putin has plans beyond Ukraine’
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On Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby spoke to reporters about the US military’s plans to help Ukraine as Russian forces continue to advance across the country.
A reporter asked Kirby if US intelligence suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin would stop his advancement with Ukraine. Some European countries fear that the Russian president’s campaign could continue beyond the borders of the war-torn country.
“It’s not entirely clear if Mr. Putin has any plans beyond Ukraine,” Kirby said. “And it’s because it’s not perfectly clear that we continue to look for ways to strengthen our NATO capabilities and reassure our allies. I mean, one of the reasons we’re doing this, it’s because we want him to understand that we will defend every square inch of NATO territory.”
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“I think there’s no reason for it to be a war now,” Kirby told reporters of the possibility of armed conflict between NATO forces and Russia. “And it shouldn’t have been. Mr. Putin had diplomatic options on the table which he decided to ignore, avoid and invade Ukraine regardless. So there shouldn’t be any no reason for there to be a war.”
Kirby, however, warned that with Putin’s war against Ukraine already underway, it was paramount for the United States to make clear to the Russians that it would defend “every square inch of NATO territory.”
“We have to make sure – and we will make sure – that it’s very clear that we’re going to defend every square inch of NATO territory,” Kirby repeated. “I’m not going to speculate what the future holds because it’s unclear exactly where Mr. Putin is going here. We want to make it clear that he won’t be able to tangibly threaten our allies with NATO.”
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White House Press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s White House has not “forever ruled out diplomacy” with Russia amid the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
PSAKI said the United States would not completely freeze the Eastern European aggressor “forever” during the daily White House press briefing on Friday.
Psaki was also asked why President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin weren’t talking.
“Because (Putin) is invading a sovereign country,” she replied.
“I would say a time when a ruler starts and is in the process of invading a sovereign country is not the time when diplomacy feels appropriate,” Psaki added.
“That doesn’t mean we haven’t ruled out diplomacy forever. Obviously the president remains open to a leader-to-leader dialogue, but now is not the time.”
PSAKI also said the United States was “not in a dovish moment” amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
PSAKI also confirmed that the United States would join the European Union in sanctioning the Russian president Vladimir Poutine personally about the invasion of Ukraine.
Fox News’ Houston Keene contributed to this report.